BARASH, EPHRAIM


BARASH, EPHRAIM (1892–1943), head of the Judenrat in Bialystok. Barash, who was born in Volkovysk (then Russian Poland), was active from his youth in communal life, in Jewish self-defense, and the Zionist movement. During World War I he was a refugee in Russia. After the war he formed the municipal council of Volkovysk where he became president of the Jewish Trade Bank, a member of the community council, chairman of the local Zionist organization, and honorary chairman of He-Ḥalutz. In 1934 he settled in Bialystok and became general manager of the Jewish community council. When the Germans captured the town at the end of June 1941, Barash was appointed vice chairman of the Judenrat of which he was the guiding spirit. He represented a continuity of leadership of the Council. He organized ghetto life, established industrial enterprises, and, although well aware of German plans concerning the Jews, believed that the Jews would be spared if they could be employed in work essential to the German war effort, a view shared by Mordecai Chaim Rumkowski in Lodz. Unlike some other Judenrat leaders, including Rumkowski, Barash actively collaborated with the local Jewish fighting organization (led by Mordecai *Tenenbaum), and helped it financially and by providing material for manufacturing arms. Relations, however, broke off before the ghetto uprising in Bialystok. He was in personal contact with some of the Germans, and believed that they would give him ample warning of their intention to destroy – what the Nazis termed liquidate – the ghetto, at which time he intended to join the partisans. The Uprising commenced after the large deportations began on August 16, 1943. It took five days to suppress. The ghetto was destroyed on August 21–27, 1943, with the deportation of 25,000 Jews to Treblinka. For a short period of time Barash and his wife along with other Judenrat members and several hundred Jews were put in a small ghetto and from there they were sent to the Majdanek death camp, where he was killed.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

M. Einhorn (ed.), Volkovyzker Yisker-Bukh, 2 vols. (1949); N. Blumental, Darko shel Yudenrat (1962). I. Trunk, Judenrat (1972).

[Nachman Blumental]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.